Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Games that Never Were

Good evening readers,

As you all know, I am a big fan of the Wayback Machine. I am a consummate traveller of both time and space--in both the physical and psychological sense. Recently I've gone on a journey of discovery, which has lead me to new appreciation of pulp writing from the golden age of sci-fi, action, and fantasy. I am also one for nostalgia in my own time period. Quite often I will revisit movies, music, T.V. shows, books, and video games of the 1980's. It can be both refreshing, and sometimes heartbreaking, to salvage the flotsam and jetsam of one's own childhood. Oh, the things we give up for modernity, only to crave them once more in adulthood.
I've recently come across some fantastic vintage video game sites. Links to these sites will be posted below. I got to thinking as I perused and played these forsaken titles, that vintage games had the best cover artwork of all time. Their images evoke danger, excitement, and fantastic characters, creatures, and place While their plots, and graphics may have been simplistic, the game play is nonetheless challenging. Still, the artwork is unsurpassed by anything we have seen today.

In honor of the old 2600, and other systems, I submit to you Games That Should Have Been...But Never Were

1. Tea Time With Douglas
Sit down for a refreshing cup of Earl Grey with the Author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Be prepared for intellectual combat with the Neutromatic drink synthesizer, as it refuses to dispense a hot cup of brown joy. Then it's drinks with Richard Dawkins and Ford Prefect, as they contemplate what came first, "The ape, or the ape man?" Round it all off with a trip to Algol, and a quest to save the endangered species of The Milky Way Galaxy. Be sure to avoid the Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, they're killer.

Weapons: towel, wit, and sarcasm.
Enemies: Vogons, narrow-minded people, Fundamentalists.
Life saving reference guide: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Allies: Ford Prefect, Arthur Dent, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian, and Marvin The Paranoid Android.

2. Solomon Kane--Puritian's Rage!
Yes, Robert E. Howard's avenging angel is back to punish the wicked in 16th or 17th century Britain, and Africa. Join Solomon and shamanic sidekick N'Longa, as they battle demons, pirates, and anybody who has the misfortune of crossing them. Evildoers, don't even think of burning down a village, or roughing up a young woman. Solomon has got your name, and his shitlist is a mile long!

Weapons: Twin flintlock pistols, rapier, Staff of King Solomon, badass puritan hat and cloak.
Enemies: The Fishhawk, Le Loup, anybody who gets in his way.
Life saving reference guide: The Bible
Allies: N-Longa, The Almighty One.

3. The Hobbit Hangover
Bilbo has had one too many, and it's up to his wizard pal Gandalf to sober him up. Join the wizard in gray as he quests for the right ingredients to save his furry-footed friend from a splitting headache! Journey to the Inn of the Green Dragon. Clash staffs with Sarumon, philosophize with Lord Elron, and toke on that pipe weed. It's gonna take all our skills to complete this quest.

Weapons: Staff, wizard powers, a hell of a lot of patience.

Enemies: Sarumon, cheery-faced Hobbits...we hates Hobbitses!
Life saving reference book: Wizarding and You by Gandalf The Grey, Albus Dumbledore, and Merlin.
Allies: Unless Aragorn can stop chasing after Elvin skirt, you're on your own, chum.

4. Red Sonja's Dungeon Boudoir
Pain never felt sooo good. Chained to a post, it's up to you to wait until Red Sonja of Rogantino (R.E. Howard's beautiful barbarian babe) comes to save your sorry hide. Watch in wonder as she tears through attackers, rips abs...I mean, rages and rampages as only Red Sonja could. Marvel as she takes on the dungeon mistress in a final fantastic showdown of feminine strength!

Weapons: Sword, bad attitude.
Allies...(note, the author of this page was too busy daydreaming to finish his synoposis. The handwritten notes he prepared were sent to us covered in drool--at least we hope it's drool. Either way, the pages were illegible and stuck together).
...I need a cigarette after that review...

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it does give you an idea of the lost opportunities of Atari, Colecovision, and other game systems.

Look for another episode of the podcast comming this week, as we review Joe Schreiber's Star Wars novel DEATHTROOPERS. This will be followed by a bonus episode of original fiction by Mr. John Z. himself. Next week: Hackers, Vintage Video Games, and Blue Boxes.

In love and pixels,
Johnny Z.

Play over 500 vintage Atari games here: http://www.2600online.com/
Make lables like mine here: http://www.labelmaker2600.com/
More Atari goodness, and awesome box art can be found at: http://www.atariage.com/


  1. Very fun list! About the only fault is that you call her "Red Sonja of Rogatino." That'd be Red SonYa of Rogatino, Howard's original creation, who was very different from the comics iteration. If anything, it would be Red Sonja of Hyrkania.

  2. Hey Taranaich,
    Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate it. I'm relatively new to Howard's characters, and their respective worlds. Prior to listening to some audio books from Librivox, I had not actually taken in any Howard fiction for myself. Though, I was familiar with Conan through the Arnie film of the 1980's. I've recently started getting into Solomon Kane. I've had little exposure to Sword and Sorcery, as I'm mostly a Sci-Fi guy, but I'm willing to give it a chance.

    Thanks again for the kudos, and for keeping me honest.

    John Z.